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Schafer, Jerome (2020): Delayed Gratification in Political Participation. In: American Politics Research, Vol. 49, No. 3: pp. 304-312

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Delayed gratification is associated with myriad desirable outcomes-like eating right and saving money. In this article, I explore whether it also increases political participation. To this end, I provide an explicit decision-theoretic framework, which predicts that less patient individuals are less willing to vote and to donate;these forms of participation are costly before Election Day, but their rewards are partially delayed. I then discuss how to elicit individual time preferences with real monetary incentives. In the empirical analysis, I provide evidence from a representative U.S. survey showing that monetary discount rates predict turnout and donations. Though mostly correlational and exploratory, these findings hold when controlling for a host of potential confounds. Overall, my results indicate that impatient types are less likely to prepare for and ultimately participate in elections. This sheds light on when and how deep psychological traits constrain political decisions involving a trade-off over time.

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